Guest blog part 3: Visiting Sussex by Sue (Anji’s mum)

Saturday 26 April

After a comfortable night we made our way to the hotel’s lift expecting to whizz up to the top floor and the restaurant for breakfast with a view over London. Wrong! Since our last visit, the restaurant had been re-located in the basement so we followed our noses and found it without any help from available staff, notices, information sheets in rooms etc. Well done us! Breakfast was quite good, too, though the tea, coffee and orange juice left a lot to be desired. Afterwards, Anji having looked at train times on her mobile’s app, we set off for the station and bought the necessary tickets so that we could get to Sussex and visit the southern branch of our family. For the best value, it meant using our Oyster cards for the first part of the journey and then travelling on the new tickets for the remainder of it. Our carefully chosen train times would have worked well but for the fact that we needed to check out and in again at the interim point and that made us just in time to be too late to catch the connection. We would have had a Costa coffee to while away the hour’s wait for the next one but that was far too complicated as Costa was outside of the ticket barrier so we made do with a station buffet version served in polystyrene cups. It was OK (and better than the hotel’s) but you can’t beat a Costa coffee, can you? The weather was being kind so we enjoyed our journey into the countryside and the short walk from the station to R, M & J’s house with a stop on at Tesco en route for me to buy a bottle of champagne and a couple of other goodies.

We received a warm welcome on arrival and had a lovely time chatting, catching up with news and events and admiring and fussing the two magnificent feline members of the family. I was very generously indulged in my plea for permission to take lots of photos and even J cooperated by letting me include him. M had prepared a delicious lunch so we polished that off and drank the champagne which was to celebrate Crystal Palace’s survival in the Premiership (I’d been promising myself that reward on the team’s behalf for some time, never dreaming that it would come actually happen) and R’s new job.

Our visit came to an end far too soon but Anji and I had to get back to London and let the others recover from our visit as we fully realise that we’re a bit of a force to be reckoned with when we get together! Sorry folks! All agreed that it had been an enjoyable afternoon, though. R walked us back to the station and when we arrived in London, we popped into the local supermarket to buy a few provisions to see us through the evening and the next day and then we relaxed in our room back at the hotel. Tomorrow promised to be another exciting day!

Food store photo foodstore_zps879a12dc.jpg

St George’s Day 2014 – Guest blog by Sue (Anji’s Mum)

When Anji bemoaned the fact that she wouldn’t have time to write a blog about about our recent week together and suggested I write it for her as a ‘Guest Blog’ I thought she was joking but, on reflection, I think maybe she was half-serious so here goes:

Anji is without wheels at the moment (her old banger having finally given up the ghost) so in order to get from A to B to C, etc., it was necessary for her (separately) and us (jointly) to use trusty old Public Transport throughout the week. Having originally planned to drive to me in Chester after work on 22nd, it became necessary for Anji to do that journey by rail during the day so working arrangements were duly changed with her colleague. (Thank you K.) As far as I can gather, that journey was without event, included a convenient pit-stop en route, and I met her at the station on arrival. We then enjoyed a good catch-up over a delicious Dominos pizza, accompanied by a bottle of robust red wine when we got back here.

Cards


We awoke next morning with an air of excitement as we had our annual celebration of St George’s Day to look forward to. After breakfast, we both did our best to do justice to the day by wearing dresses (a very rare occurrence for me!) and generally making ourselves presentable, as Anji’s dad as an ex Coldstream Guard was wont to do (not the dress, obviously!) every year on this day in honour of his ‘Battalion Day’. We visited the crematorium on the way to town to pick up our red-rose buttonholes which had been pre-ordered and, sporting those, we went on our (soon to be) merry way to see what, if anything was going on for good old St George. Apparently, the florist had had several orders for rose buttonholes and a group was re-enacting the George and the Dragon story outside the Town Hall but we saw no evidence of others celebrating our national day.

Rose buttonhole

Rose and badge


Undeterred, we wandered off to a quintessentially English tea/coffee room where we enjoyed coffees and scones then proceeded to meander around some of the shops, picked up a few small items of interest and walked by the river and through Grosvenor Park. The park is undergoing some upgrading work at the moment so it was a bit of a mess but heyho! – we enjoyed it anyway.

Coffee time

Oh dear, we still hadn’t had a proper drink so we put that right with a visit to reliable old JDW’s (“Spoons”)and then set out to find some lunch. Back to the river then to the Boat House where we found ongoing building work to restore order after the winter floods but never mind, we settled down to watch rowers practising on the river whilst we enjoyed beautifully-cooked beer-battered fish and chips served on plates lined with greaseproof-paper displaying information about fish, etc.. We did, of course, have a little tipple with our meal, as is the custom on SGD and took in our stride the interruption when one of the builders accidentally set off the fire alarm.

1st drinks photo SGD1stDrinks_zps53331b9f.jpg Spoons mum photo SGDSpoonsMum_zpsfdb092ba.jpg Lunch by river mum photo SGDlunchmum_zpsf6cfb0e3.jpg Lunch me photo SGDlunch_zps1d12614a.jpg Lunch tipple photo SGDlunch2_zpsaf1e71ce.jpg Lunch drinks photo SGDlunchdrinks_zps518ba278.jpg Lunch photo SGDLunchFishandchips_zps531eeaf1.jpg

Feeling somewhat merrier by now, we made our way to the next planned watering hole only to find it closed. However, not too far away was a new establishment – an old church converted to a bar/ restaurant – where we whiled away another very pleasant interlude with a little drink.

Church pub photo SGDChurchoutside_zpsd5b2ce43.jpg In Church photo SGDChurch_zps5892ad6b.jpg Church bar photo Churchbar_zps592a1f82.jpg Church drinks photo SGDChurchdrinks_zps813c4998.jpg Church pew photo ChurchMum_zps78aa4d22.jpg Church - me photo Anjichurch_zpsd6db821e.jpg

During our earlier wanderings, we’d called into the O2 shop to discuss my up-coming mobile upgrade and I decided I wanted to it that day so off we went back to the shop, did the deal and came away with my new toy. Exhausted by now and with home time calling, we returned on the bus to round off the day with crumpets and cakes – and more wine throughout a (very) relaxed evening.

Last drinks of the day

All in all, a very good SGD once again. Thank you Anji, for enjoying it with me.

An early trophy for City :)

city for love
For City’s League Cup Final meeting with Sunderland, given that I couldn’t afford to go to Wembley, I watched in the pub with Roger Junior and Senior (Sunderland fans), Graham (Newcastle fan but Sunderland dad), Stef, Billy, Raji (Newcastle) and Mark (Bolton)

Friends together

When Sunderland went a goal up, (and the ecstatic celebrations by Roger & Roger settled 😉 ) I remarked that they were going to be VERY, VERY nervous now and they were:

nervesscarf

At half time I prayed for a decent half time talk and maybe some changes – and clearly Pellegrini had his hairdryer on hand.

I celebrated Yaya’s (spectacular) goal by leaping up and spilling beer on my lucky Wembley flag – ooops! At 2-1 City, Roger & Roger were sitting back resigned, and it was ME that was nervous! Our third goal was harsh on poor Sunderland who had played well and didn’t deserve that scoreline really. However, City turned on the class after the break and there was not much they could do to stop us.

From everything I’ve heard from those who were at the game, City and Sunderland fans were friendly and respectful of each other before and after the match which is always good to see 🙂 In the pub, although a few other Sunderland fans had come in after us, they quickly cleared off at full time – however, our group stayed on and Paul joined us once he finished work (we ended up returning home 7.5 hours after we left 🙂 )

afterkitty

So, an early trophy for City, a first for Pellegrini in his time here, and still in the running for another couple (theoretically, three, but I think we’ll be out of the Champs League on Wednesday when we play the return fixture against Barca) I’d be happy with this one, pleased as punch with another, and highly surprised (but delighted) with a third.

city no history

MCFC’s short highlights here
MCFC’s extended highlights here
Sunderland fan blog article

Happy New Year 2014

The year has flown by but on the whole it’s been a positive one, moving slowly in the right direction as I mentioned at Christmas.

Happy 2014 to all the people that keep me going. You! My friends and family. May this New Year be all that you hope it will be. If there is one thing I’ve learned in the last couple of years, it’s that life is full of uncertainties so you have to go grab it by the horns and make it (whatever it may be) happen!

Counting our blessings at Christmas

Well time has run away with me and here I am on Christmas Eve reflecting on a year of huge change for us.

Last Christmas we had no idea where we’d be living at this time, or even if we’d have a roof over our heads at all. We had no security, no money, no idea what the future might hold and it was very, very scary. We were living one day at a time and barely hanging in there.

Gradually, we’ve taken little steps forward and now we are living in a house that’s plenty large enough for us all to remain together as a family unit, complete with cats, and we are very lucky to have such a lovely landlady. By pooling our resources, and working hard we’ve managed to just about make ends meet. Billy was working part-time at first but now has a full-time job which he is enjoying getting his teeth into. Nel was unemployed but is now very settled into an NHS admin apprenticeship and is very much part of the team at work, valued for herself – and spoiled to bits by everyone in the department! Raji was doing a job that didn’t really challenge him enough but is now in a role which suits him well and pays more. I have spent the year working as much overtime as possible, with just one week off in July, but this has kept our heads above water and I do enjoy my work and feel a part of the team. Stephen still works at the pub which he enjoys but the hours aren’t sufficient to support him, unfortunately. So we’ve had small but positive changes since last Christmas – little steps;right direction.

This has led to me really feeling the true spirit of Christmas and I am fully in the mood to count my blessings.

I have my family all together and getting on with life by helping each other through. I have a nice home. I have absolutely wonderful friends and family who have supported us though this tricky year. I have the things that really matter.

I’ve cut down a lot on Christmas presents – and even cards – as have many people in this financial climate. I’ve made many presents myself and have enjoyed doing so and put a lot of TLC into them. Those presents I have bought were carefully chosen and I’ve made use of special offers, discounts and loyalty schemes, but I am pleased with what I’ve bought. People won’t have umpteen things, just one or two presents that I hope will really please them. It’s all so much more special and meaningful for me this year and I hope the recipients feel it too.

On the other side of the coin,I feel lucky to have such lovely, kind, caring colleagues who are also good friends. I’ve already received lovely messages in cards and presents from unexpected quarters. I’ve enjoyed sharing Christmas cheer with people who work very intensely all year and feel privileged to get on so well with people of all roles within the hospital. But more than this, these people have supported me through bad times and shared good ones every day so what little I’ve done for them at this time of year to put a smile on their faces has been very enjoyable to do.

At home, I have two children of whom I am proud and whom I am happy to call friends as well as family. I am lucky to have my wonderful mum who, as you know, is a huge part of my life and gives me so much by way of support, love and fun. She doesn’t live with us but is nonetheless part of this family unit and I don’t know what I’d have done without her. Raji, of course, does live with us and enriches our household; I must admit I can’t imagine him not being with us now. We get on really well and he is more a brother and friend than “just” an in-law. As for Billy and I, we’ve actually managed to spend some time together here and there and now that he’s settled in to his job and life has calmed down a bit, he’s more like the man with whom I fell in love. Dare I hope we can pause to enjoy each other for a while?

As you may know, our darts team is made up of very good friends and they too have seen us through this year. I love my Friday nights playing darts in their company. In good times and bad, we can just relax and be ourselves with them, and they with us. I miss them if I don’t see them one week and I don’t get bored with their company if we get together for other things (such as watching football in the pub and generally leading each other astray 😉 ) Their easy company and solid friendship has kept us going at times when we’ve really needed propping up.

I also have my beloved City to keep me entertained and through my football I have many friends who enrich my life. I have my City friends, some of whom I meet up with at games, some I only see occasionally. I have friends who are fans of other football clubs, some of whom I know well, some I’ve only met once or twice. Football brings me closer to my brother when we exchange match day texts as the geographical distance between us and busy lives make it all too easy to lose touch otherwise. All of these people make me feel a part of something, a sense of belonging and offer humour and opinion to entertain me. Many of them do more and have generously given me help, advice, support, access to match tickets and are dear friends. (You know who you are.)

So as I sit here counting my blessings and looking forward to a family Christmas and New Year with friends, I would just like to thank each and every one of you who has helped make this year bearable and kept us going. THANK YOU! I wish you a Christmas time full of your own blessings, with love, laughter and light and I hope that 2014 will be all that you hope it will be.

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all my wonderful family and friends.

Our annual night out (Cricket dinner 2013)

Where does the time go? On 15th November, it was once again time for Billy’s cricket dinner at Langley Castle.
(See previous year’s posts: 2012, 2011, 2008, 2007. )

This also happened to be Stephen’s birthday so I checked with him first that he didn’t want to do something en famille for the occasion. I was unsurprised when he said not! 😉 We hadn’t know what to get him as a present so took a bit of a chance and bought him DFDS ferry vouchers for a trip to Amsterdam as this was something he fancied doing. Mum had done the research and she also bought him ferry vouchers, and she has offered her travel agency experience when it comes to booking. Happily he was really pleased with them and is now enjoying planning a trip. 🙂

Still being a smaller clothing size means I don’t have many clothes that fit (it’s now been a year since my bizarre, unexplained weight loss, yet I can’t quite accept that I won’t go back to my normal size and be able to wear my old clothes again.) I had an inexpensive green dress I could wear though it wasn’t really quite dressy enough, but teamed with an evening shrug and some high heels, it did the job. Nel let me use her green eye-shadow and my friend Helen loaned me her beautiful green shell necklace, earrings and bracelets – thanks girls 🙂 The menfolk scrubbed up rather nicely and submitted to a photo before we left. (I reckoned my heels made me the same height as them for once, but they said not…)

Thorn between two roses

We met with everyone at the cricket club ready for the coach taking us to the castle with the usual sweepstake on the length of the guest speaker’s after dinner speech 🙂 The venue was as beautiful as ever and the meal superb. (Sun-blushed tomato & basil soup topped with a parmesan straw; Roast loin of succulent pork, apple & pancetta stuffing, fondant potato and seasonal vegetables; Baileys cheesecake, caramel ice-cream and chocolate sauce; coffee and mints.)

As usual I couldn’t quite manage all my main course so Billy finished it off for me. However, he didn’t return the favour with the divine dessert, despite the fact that he doesn’t like cheesecake! 😉 It really was a gorgeous meal, the company excellent and the speeches amusing. There were lots of prize winners who were enthusiastically congratulated, and we even won 1st prize in the raffle! (A lovely wicker hamper full of food and drink goodies, which we’re going to save for Christmas 🙂 )

Chairman Webby playing host with the most photo WP_000285_zpsafa7d401.jpg Speaker Foxy making us laugh photo WP_000286-Copy_zps07f6bb3e.jpg Beautiful venue photo WP_000288_zpsf638467d.jpg Can't beat dinner in a castle photo WP_000289_zps1833c73c.jpg Prize winners and their prizes photo WP_000292_zpsed76667f.jpg Getting restless now photo WP_000294_zps536d0fc7.jpg

The coach came to take us back to Hexham at around midnight, Raji and I then coming home, with Billy joining a few others in the pub until the wee small hours. It had been a wonderful evening and worthy of being our annual night out 🙂

Billy

All in green

Together

Laughing and late nights.

Stephen always shares funny videos etc with me and lifts me with a few minutes’ conversation every day, but I think he made an extra effort since my little meltdown and it’s been much appreciated. First he sat one evening and watched his “Rise of the Dark Knight” DVD with me and I thoroughly enjoyed both the film and his company. He has also shared some funny videos with me this week including – An American coach in London (football related) Running Man (football related) Substitute teacher – and then others by the same comedian.

I then had three late nights this week. THREE! I can usually only manage one, but I have to say that I really enjoyed all of these and felt they did me the world of good.

On Monday I had Helen, Nic and Sarah round for tea straight from work. I’d set the table and cleared the kitchen before I went to work and even picked some flowers from the garden to put on the table. I warned them that I had no idea what state the house would be in when we arrived home, though I knew Nel and Billy had both planned to do their bit during the day. I was pleasantly surprised to find a spotless house with everything in its place. Wonderful 🙂 Billy had even taken the loaf out of the bread making machine for me and it was sitting cooling on the side, greeting us with its heavenly aroma. As I’d prepared the food the day before, we relaxed with a mojito in the garden for a while then ate our quiche, homemade coleslaw, salad, and aforementioned bread accompanied with a glass or two of wine. For afters we had strawberries, whipped cream and homemade shortbread and then we went and sat outside again until quite late. It was really lovely and relaxing and must do it again before too long.

My second late night was on Wednesday which was Billy’s birthday. We met up with some friends at Wetherspoons before going on to the Coach later and had a very enjoyable night. I didn’t really want to go home but with work in mind, reluctantly tore myself away about 10.30/11pm and Billy walked me home before going back out to finish his night. It was great and I only wish we could do it slightly more often. I think Billy had a good birthday anyway, which was the object of the exercise; I certainly enjoyed it!

On Friday we were back out for our summer darts mini-league. We’d decided not to simply sit back and not touch a dart all summer so Senior had come up with the idea of all 8 members of our team having a little competition ourselves. Each week we’ve been playing each other in 3-leg games and we each played everyone else twice. For fun, Paul worked out the odds of each of us winning the league and though I can’t remember the exact odds for everyone, he was pretty much spot on with Senior running away with it. I was 28/1 and was actually quite pleased with my performances. Could have won a few more maybe, but equally I could have lost more. I was pleased with a 2-dart finish to check out on 91 this week 🙂 Only Graham beat me 3-0 twice. Senior did so once. I’ve won two games 3-0 and most of my games have been 2-1 regardless of whether I won or lost. I’ve played all my games now, as have most of us, but Mark just has a couple to play which will affect the final positions for us all. Not only has the extra playing time done my darts good I think – I’ve been regularly hitting treble 20 – but I’ve also enjoyed seeing the gang each week and relaxing in to the weekend with my favourite people.

Despite being a bit tired, I really enjoyed my week and felt it perked me up emotionally and mentally 🙂

St George’s Day 2013

Happy St George’s Day dad


A little narrative to go with the following picture story:

Venue: Hexham again, Mum coming to see the new house as well as to share our special day in memory of Dad.
Red rose buttonholes: (“Naomi” roses) from Dillies – perfect as ever.
Cards and presents exchanged: mum’s to me was a back pack/gym bag with the cross of St George (LOVE it!), mine to mum was a box of notelets with roses on them, and a St George’s flag seat belt pad.
Visited: Hexham’s Old Gaol and border history museum then had coffee in Caffe Nero. In the evening we had a perfect meal in The Heart of All England (Hexham) and lingered for some time before popping in to the Globe for a last drink on the way home.
Next Day: We had afternoon tea at Langley Castle to round off our patriotic treats 🙂

(If this looks blank, right click, click “reload” and you should see the photo story 🙂 )

A lorra laughs with the birthday girl

Mum’s birthday was on a Monday this year and I had some holiday left to take so booked the Monday and Tuesday off and went to Mum’s for a long weekend 🙂

I drove down on Saturday morning and it felt absolutely wonderful to be on the road after such a long time. I love motorway driving and was quite happy singing caterwauling along to my CD’s and looking forward to a couple of days R&R. It was going to be nice to swap the mess and moods at home for calm, order and relaxation.

In our couple of days together we had lots of laughs and managed to go to B&Q to buy paint for the next little project, do the shopping and we thoroughly enjoyed going through some old letters and photographs of my Nan’s. There were letters between her and my grandad from the war when she was evacuated to Whitehaven and he was serving in Italy; it was very moving to read how much they loved and missed each other and promises never to be parted again. Grandad’s letters were full of assurances that “Jerry” was on the run and the war would soon be over now. Nanny’s letters to him and to her mum showed what a close family unit they were and there were others too from very early on in her married life. It was all so interesting and we felt privileged to share a glimpse in to my grandparents’ lives. There was also a little booklet, sponsored by Stork margarine which was a “Questionnaire for young folk which my Nan had been given at school in 1930. There was a sport, history and first aid section of questions and answers, with the rest being general knowledge – and some of them were really tough! Some were just tough for us as they pertained to matters only up to 1930! (so questions asking for the last prime minister to do something, or last sports person to hold a record etc. would not have the same answer now as then.) Some of the first aid answers were so out of date that they were wrong e.g. they had blood vessels down as organs. However the true purpose of this booklet was to brain wash “young folk” with the message that Stork margarine was every bit as healthy and nutritious as butter and mum and I now know that margarine was invented in 1870 by Mege-Mouries thanks to the Franco-Prussian war when there was a shortage of cows and therefore of butter! Stork bought the rights to make it in England and set up shop in Purfleet. (Hope you’re impressed as I have told you this from memory (brain washing, see!)) Mum and I got the giggles as every new section of questions began and ended with one on margarine and its history 🙂 At some point I will try and scan some of this stuff and share. Even the paper was interesting as both the booklet and the letters – and even greetings cards – were on good quality paper, some of which was so soft it was almost like fabric. The stamps were interesting too – mainly those of George VI and then one of the series of letters with Queen Elizabeth II. All so fascinating!

On the Sunday I abandoned mum for a bit and went to my match – my first for ages. I was so happy to be there despite City playing very poorly and being extremely lucky to have it finish City 2 – 2 Liverpool We had two fluky goals but Liverpool were by far the better team and should have won! I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon though, as I always do, and loved getting my fix of live football / City.

On mum’s birthday we had a birthday breakfast of “Nanny toast” and marmalade. (My Nan always used to cut great fat slabs of bread, toast them, add loads of butter (no, not Stork!) and marmalade and this was always a special treat for us when visiting her and grandad) Then mum opened all her cards and presents which was fun – I love sharing present openings and seeing what lovely things people have chosen. We then went in to town and had a nice coffee break (hard work these birthdays you know! 😉 ) and visited the Grosvenor Museum which neither of us had done before despite all the years in Chester. It was a bit of a disappointment in that many of the exhibits were being either assembled or dismantled and therefore had nothing for us to see. We were also dodging school parties and in fact it didn’t take us long to look at what there was at all. We enjoyed the Roman bits and we had to leave the art gallery when I got the giggles at mum’s face when a guided group entered the room, taking her by surprise 😀 We thought we’d revisit the Visitor Centre but this was closed, unfortunately. (When I’ve looked it up to link here, it seems to have changed hands and purpose.) We walked along the river and up through the park, with a nod to “Charlie” (actually, he’s Richard!) whose monument resides there, and finished with a little mooch round a couple of shops. This included popping in to a couple of the O2 shops to ask how to get my usual ringtone set up on my new phone. Unbeknown to me, as the phone was set to “silent”, the volume was on the highest setting and consequentially, in both shops, when staff accessed the song I wanted as my ringtone, “City, Manchester City” blared out full blast – in Chester, which is largely populated by Liverpool fans! The day after we jammily robbed them of a point! 😀 (Neither store could help much, but I’ve since figured out a way to do it myself.)In the evening I cooked the lamb shanks we’d chosen from mum’s freezer and we had them with a very nice bottle of wine 🙂 It wasn’t the most exciting of birthdays for mum but we both enjoyed it nevertheless and I certainly enjoyed being there to share the day.

On Tuesday, we planned to take Rocky to the vet for his annual injections as Mum hates trying to catch him to take him to the vet and has had to cancel taxis before when she couldn’t get him in time. I was happy to be helping with transport, but after the last time I caught him he was nervous of me for months and I really didn’t want him to be like that with me again. Mum and I were very deliberately acting casually and literally pussy-footing around – and in the end he was fairly simply captured and mum got him into his carrier without too much fuss. It added a bit of extra fun running with his carrier through the blizzard which was blowing at the time, but he got a clean bill of health, bar a minor bout of conjunctivitis for which he got some drops, and that was that! Whatever were we worried about? 😉 Mum rewarded us that evening with Dominos pizza – and we got a good deal since we had an e-mail offer of £10 off when ordering £25 or more. Er, bargain! How could we refuse? 😉

I had to leave straight after breakfast on Wednesday so that I could get to work for the afternoon, but I had had the sot wonderful break with one of my most favourite people in the world, which really perked us both up I think. Thank you Mummy, I love you, and Happy Birthday 🙂

Nel’s Snowy Birthday

Nel’s birthday was on a Saturday this year and since she hates football so much, I forfeited my match to devote the day to her. She wanted to visit the Hancock Museum followed by a Chinese meal for lunch at a restaurant in Newcastle that we’ve enjoyed in the past. However, snow started falling heavily on the Friday and we decided to revise our plans in the interests of safety and having a stress-free day. (We have agreed, however, to go to the museum at a later date so that she doesn’t miss out, but the restaurant appears to now be closed.)

As usual, I was the first up and as Nel had requested a birthday cheesecake, I got on with making her one (and one for the rest of the family!) as well as a big pan of leek and potato soup. When she woke up, she sent me a text requesting a chopped apple and a cat to be take to her in bed! After obliging, I also gave her her presents and cards (DVD’s from us) and Billy trudged through a blizzard in the (now fairly deep) snow to collect Mum’s birthday parcel from the sorting office.

Just before noon, Billy, Raji, and I took the birthday girl out for her Chinese lunch to one of our favourite restaurants, The Golden Dragon, just in town. We had a lovely meal whilst watching the snow falling outside. We had the lunchtime menu but added crispy duck pancakes too as it was a treat. Although I ordered my usual favourite (chicken in lemon sauce) we all shared our dishes so we also had chicken and mushrooms, beef in black bean sauce and broccoli in garlic sauce. The latter was gorgeous and a new (2nd) favourite of mine. Billy left to go to his football match which was still on, and transport running, and the rest of lingered over coffee and Chinese tea before leaving. On the way home, we rented a DVD for later, and then when we got home, Nel went for a nap!

Since I had written off any hope of following my match, it was an unexpected bonus being able to do so, and Raji and I settled in the living room with the fire on, TV flicking between the rugby and Soccer Saturday and I followed MCFC’s text commentary of the game, a comfortable sounding 2-0 win for City. 🙂

We had an evening meal of homemade soup, bacon sandwiches and cheesecake and once Nel appeared, she, Raji and I watched The Amazing Spiderman whilst drinking mulled wine – a cosy way to spend a snowy evening 🙂 The film was very good and much better than previous Spiderman ones; it is very much in keeping with the Avengers series and I look forward to the next film.

Although it was not quite how we’d planned to spend Nel’s birthday, it was a very pleasant and relaxing day in the end and we all rather enjoyed it. I can’t believe my youngest baby is 20 now, but am very proud of her and how she’s grown into such a lovely young woman 🙂